Arizona Pension Overhaul Has Rocky Path Ahead in House


After breezing through the state Senate, a proposed overhaul of Arizona’s public safety pension system will face a tougher crowd in the House.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously last Thursday by a 28-0 vote.

But a top House lawmaker has come out in opposition to the legislation. From the Arizona Daily Star:

The No. 3 Republican in the state House lashed out Wednesday at a plan to revamp the pension funds for police and firefighters, saying it’s a bad deal and should be scrapped.

Majority Whip David Livingston, R-Peoria, said there’s no need to ask voters to alter the system that determines what benefits are available to current and retired public safety employees.


Despite the objections, the House Insurance Committee approved the plan on a 7-1 vote. That sends the package to the full House, where there are likely more than enough votes for it.

But even if Livingston and Harris cannot kill the legislation, they have another remedy.

They could persuade voters to reject the required constitutional amendment to make the change. And that defeat would change the dynamics of the package — and the savings to the system.

A brief recap of the measure from the Arizona Republic:

Besides changes to cost-of-living adjustments, major provisions include a new tier for newly hired police and firefighters that limits maximum pension payments and requires employers and employees to share equally in payments to retirement accounts. New hires also would be given a choice of opting for a 401(k) style retirement plan rather than a plan with a guaranteed pension.

Current employees pay about 11 percent of their pay into the retirement plan, but employer contributions aren’t capped.

If the bill clears the House, it will have to be approved by voters at the ballot box.


Photo credit: “Entering Arizona on I-10 Westbound” by Wing-Chi Poon – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

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